I am a military brat. An odd term to describe a group of former and current children, but one worn with pride by many, nonetheless. I was raised primarily in Colorado Springs, CO, and the surrounding communities. Ft Carson, just outside of Colorado Springs, was my family’s primary connection to the military. There are, however, multiple military installations nearby: Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, NORAD US Space Command, and of course the Air Force Academy.

I grew up like many children in the military, modestly. Well, that is inaccurate, we had no money. Unfortunately, service men and women – particularly in the enlisted (vs officer) ranks – do not earn a lot of money. Much is made of the benefits that are provided – housing and medical – but housing is not guaranteed, and even so, it does not make up for the low wages.

I eventually joined the military myself. Our family did not have the money to pay for college and the military provided a way to offset the cost. As I look back on the decision it is an odd bargain, isn’t it? Sign your life away on a dotted line and we will pay for a portion of your education.

Recently, I had a speaking engagement in Colorado Springs, CO, at the Broadmoor. The Broadmoor is a fantastic resort at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain. Picturesque is a massive understatement for the look and feel of The Broadmoor. I walked the property the day before my talk and was overwhelmed by how well put together and maintained it was; extraordinary. Well-appointed in every way, it is a journey back in time with all of today’s amenities available, just a request away.

There was this weight or maybe a bit of darkness that was hanging over my head as I walked the property. At the foot of Cheyenne Mountain which houses NORAD US Space Command and is just a short drive from Ft. Carson, there I was, a guest at one of the best resorts in the country; a place I had only heard rumors about as a child. I never imagined staying there. I had no negative thoughts about the place or the folks who would frequent it, it was just not in the calculus of my thoughts. Our family visited the Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, and various other Colorado tourist staples but the Broadmoor? No. It was outside of my ability to touch, to feel, and to imagine.

Why? Because resources matter. It helps to shape our experiences. It shapes our options. Money can be a barrier to opportunity and the choices we make to obtain the necessary resources – to make real the opportunity to improve our lives – can be the difference between life and death. The choice I made – to join the military – eventually resulted in an overseas deployment during Desert Storm. For many, that same deployment was their first trip out of the US and one from which they would not return. I am burdened by this reality. I am also inspired and affirmed. I, like many, have been given an opportunity to use my gifts for the benefit of others. I watch and learn from the paths of others, even those whose path was abruptly halted too early. And when I view those lessons from the perspective of a military brat, whether I am at The Broadmoor or visiting a war memorial in a foreign land, I am reminded of all the bodies and minds that have been sacrificed so I and you can have an opportunity to make the world a better place.

If you have the opportunity to visit Colorado, consider including The Broadmoor, Ft Carson, and the Air Force Bases too. The beauty we have in the United States is bought and paid for with the sacrifices of all kinds of people on all sides of every battle.

Perhaps it will leave you as it does me – restless and driven, I look forward to seeing the change we will make…together.